Rural round-up

May 9, 2014

Solid Energy sells farms – Collette Devlin:

Solid Energy has sold its Southland dairy farms, but the state-owned company is yet to release the price it got.

About 2,000 hectares of the Eastern Southland rural property was sold by tender.

The properties included three dairy farms, two dairy support or conversion farms, and four properties considered as dairy support farms.

The farms, ranging from 33ha to 399ha, were within a 5-kilometre radius between Mataura and Gore.
Solid Energy bought the properties to secure access to the large lignite coal resource in the district, but no longer required the land. . .

Robo cows ready for milking – Diane Joyce:

Robots will be milking cows in Havelock North by early next year, and everyone will be able to stop in and see for themselves how it works.

Dairy farming could become a substantial earner for Hawke’s Bay if the latest robot technology is taken up by farmers, says the man behind the plan, Michael Whittaker.

A state-of-the-art 3500 square metre dairy barn is being built, in which the cows will decide how often they want to be milked and how often they want to head outside into the sunshine. For the 120 cows there will be two “self-milking” bays, to which the cows can wander whenever they chose. . .

Steady rise in milk prices over 50 years – Andrea Fox:

The milk price paid to dairy farmers has increased by an average of 11c a kilogram of milksolids a year over the past 50 years, new analysis by DairyNZ shows.

For DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman that was one of most interesting findings of the industry organisation’s economic survey for 2012-13, which also marked 50 years of economic analysis of key financial data from dairy farmers.

“That the milk price has continued to increase is not a recent phenomenon, although in the last 25 years it has shown more volatility and even increased volatility in the past six or seven years,” Newman said.

The trend had implications for farmers around risk management and how to manage changing prices, he said.  . .

MBIE’s dairy farm employee position statement positive:

With the employment practices of dairy farmers in the media spotlight, the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Labour Inspectorate’s newly released position statement, is to be followed up by both Federated Farmers and DairyNZ.

“Dairy farmers can expect a joint Industry Best Practice Guidance note next week,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers employment spokesperson.

“Both Federated Farmers and DairyNZ endorses MBIE’s common sense position statement, which not only reminds employers about the Minimum Wage Act 1983, but reminds them ‘seasonal averaging’ has gone the same way as 245-T. . . .

Scales’ target continued growth – Alan Williams:

Apple grower Scales Corporation expects to lift production every year until about 2020 to take advantage of increasing demand in Asian and Middle East markets.

Apple consumption was growing strongly in big-population markets such as Thailand, China, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates, and was growing in India, chief executive Andy Borland said.

Scales subsidiary Mr Apple had been steadily replanting its Hawke’s Bay orchards with redder, sweet varieties such as Gala, NZ Queen, and Fuji, Borland said.

It was getting the increased production now and that would continue, because apples took 5-7 years to reach production peak, he said. . .

Tasked to wake sleeping giant – Alan Williams:

Nick Berry is off to work for the opposition, but he has never seen it that way.

In his 30 years in Fonterra’s retail store business RD1, it was always RD1 as a dairy specialist and PGG Wrightson a sheep-and-beef farm supplier.

“We didn’t see Wrightson as a real competitor. It was more CRT and Farmlands as the competitors,” Berry said.

Because of that background it isn’t such a big wrench that he’s going now to help Wrightson build its supply network to dairy farmers.

“We spoke of it as more of a sleeping giant, with its 100-plus stores, and I’ll be happy to help it grow,” he said. . .


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